BUCKING an injured left arm, Filipino Rene Daquel relied on his heavy right hand to survive the tough Shota Kawaguchi and retain the Orient Pacific Boxing Federation superflyweight title Sunday night at the Osaka Arena in Japan.
Daquel, fighting under the banner of Ryuta Kato’s Team United, scored heavily on mostly booming overhand right hooks against challenger Kawaguchi on the way to a split decision.
Daquel got the nod of two judges, who had it for the proud son of Abra, while the third judge saw it for Shota, who is also the current World Boxing Organization Asia Pacific champion.
After the bout, Kawaguchi had his eyes nearly shut. He had a cut on his right eyebrow due to a solid right hook by Daquel in the 11th round that had the Japanese buckling on his knees.
“Akala ko babagsak na, ang tibay. Sayang kung hindi lang talaga masakit ung kaliwa ko, baka na follow-up ko for a knockout,” said Daquel, who improved his fight record to 19 victories, (6 KOs), 6 losses and 1 draw.
Daquel, who trained for more than a month at the Highland Gym in La Trinidad, Benguet, under seasoned mentor Joven Jorda, complained of an aching left arm.
He underwent an operation six months ago after suffering from an injury in a fight held in Okinawa, Japan in September last year.
Daquel beat Go Onaga for his first successful defense of the OPBF title he won over Rattaphon Sowangsoda in Bacolod in April.
“Medyo hindi kinaya nu’ng bandage ko kaya sa lakas ng suntok ko, nabalian ako ng buto,” said Daquel, who will rest for the next six months to undergo another operation. “Pagkatapos nito, parang bago na daw uli ang kamay ko at handa na uling sumabak.”
To rest his arms, Daquel said he had to slow down on his sparring sessions and made up for it with sprint and uphill running.
It proved to be just enough to carry Daquel against Shuta, who poured it all in the 12th and final round.
“Pero kahit masakit ang kamay ko, hindi ako tumakbo, ayaw akong sabihin ng mga hapon na ang champion tumatakbo.”
Daquel said his manager, Kato and international matchmaker Warren Evison, are preparing him for a crack at world title.
Also on hand to celebrate with Team Daquel was Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra, who personally witnessed the fight. Mitra, the incoming OPBF chairman, was officially invited by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) which santioned the fight.